Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #389

 Posted: 2001

Story 'The Faceless Man'

The final part begins with a (very) small flashback of Kraven's Last Hunt and Lifetheft. Bottomline, Pete's mad. He enters the mansion, hiding even more in the illogical belief that all the faces that made him suffer in the past, who killed his loved ones, and turned his best friend against him, were the Chameleon. All of them, were the man that can be anyone, and he was the sole responsible for many years of pain. He enters a room full of tigers, he turns to a security camera, and says that he won't be stopped, he'll hunt the Chameleon down, and kill him, no matter behind what face he hides.

The Chameleon, disguised as Kraven, is terrified as he watches the transmission. He asks "what have I done?", and realizes that Spider-Man is more ferocious than the animals he sent to attack him, that he could never do what the Hunter did, cause he's an idiot, an impostor, a chameleon, and loses the disguise. He holds the picture of him and Kraven in his hand, and he reveals that he always looked up to Kraven, he always wanted to be like him, that he knew every thought and need of Kraven better than himself, and in return, what did he get? He smashes the picture, and assumes Kraven's face again. He got friendship and life, since Kraven shared his potions with him (minus the super-strenght potion, at least, I assume), to postpone aging disease, and death. He can't let Spider-Man live, after what he did. He must be punished for making Kraven end in such a coward way, and who's better to punish him, than Dimitri Smerdyakov, the one who wanted to become Kraven. The one who finally achieved it. Smerdyakov is a coward, but he is Kravinoff now. And he won't be denied.

Spidey's experiencing a dark pleasure, and is considering to drop his moral code while he bends the neck of one of the tigers. He reconsiders, and throws the tiger away, saying he won't stop when it comes to the Chameleon's neck. The Chameleon observes, and realizes he and Peter Parker must be as good friends as Kravinoff and Smerdyakov :) , and it's his fault, for letting other people tell him what to do (hmm...), that creating the false Parkers left Spider-Man insane, why did he take a part in it? But now there's no one to give him orders. He'll kill Spider-Man, because he is Kraven! (Smerdyakov!)

Spidey took out all the tigers, and approaches a standing coffin, wich has Spider-Man dummy inside. He pulls it's mask off, and sees the face of the Chameleon. He smashes its head, and considers that maybe Peter Parker was so brutalized, that, like the dummy, under the mask only lies an empty face, and the only meaning of his life is the mask. A couple of traps more, and Spidey and Kraven come face to face. Kraven attacks with a staff, but since this Kraven has no super-strenght, it smashes on Peter's head causing no apparent damage. Spidey punches Kraven saying he wants no copies, he wants the Chameleon, and he answers, while Spidey easily dodges a net thrown by him, that he's not a copy. He attacks with a knife, and Spidey easily snaps his wrist and grabs his neck, making him drop the knife. Peter asks why did he destroy a family like the Parkers, instead of attacking him in person. Smerdyakov assumes Peter's face to reveal that who guided him to the Parkers knew about their vunerability, so why didn't he? "Why did you let my family be hurt?", he asks. Spidey hesitates, and the Chameleon uses an electric attack from Kraven's suit to knock down Spidey. He considers pointing the gun on his back to Spidey's head, but the shock's effects are wearing out and Spidey is starting to move, so he runs away. Kraven might have taken that chance, but Smerdyakov (now with the Chameleon's face) doesn't have the guts do do it.

While he runs to the mansion's graveyard, the truth bursts into his conscious mind: his repressed memories showed Sergei Kravinoff, not as a loyal friend, but as a cruel master, to a Dimitri Smerdyakov who was nothing but a servant, a slave, who was constantly reminded he was nothing. After the revolution, the Kravinoffs escaped to America without Sergei even saying a word to Dimitri, but still he went to America to try find him. The Chameleon realizes that they both found their destiny there: Sergei as the greatest hunter, and Dimitri as the greatest non-entity. He lived his entire life trying to be worthy of Kraven's respect, but as he puts the gun against his chin, he sees the only thing they have in common is a coward death...

POW! Spidey smacked the gun out of Chameleon's hands, and punches him against Kraven's tombstone, preventing him to stop his revenge as Kraven did. Smerdyakov asks for mercy, claiming he's only a servant. Spidey doesn't care, and picks up the tombstone, ready to crush the Chameleon under it. The Chameleon has a break down, and starts to shift faces, while claiming he's not worthy to die, cause he hasn't even lived, since he has no face, no soul, he's nothing, nothing, nothing... Spidey stares at is stabilized blank face, and throws the tombstone behind, leaving an insane Chameleon stuck to the ground with webbing.

The hate is gone. Now there's only pity, and Spidey doesn't want that. He searches in the computer room's database for anything that leads him to the one that guided the Chameleon to the Parkers, to find a new target for his hate. He finds a file: "Spider-Man: for his eyes only". He runs it. A familiar voice greets an old friend, saying he has expecting he defeated the Chameleon, but he just wanted to invade his life again, to use his parents to avenge what he suffered when Spidey killed his father. The voice is Harry Osborn's, and the face is the Green Goblin's. "Gotcha", he repeatedly says, to a crumbled and desperate Spider-Man.

I really liked this ending. Seing the Chameleon break down was great. Smerdyakov's repressed memories took the best over him, and have driven him insane. Peter on the other hand, was nearly crossing the line, but his conscience stopped him twice. In the end, the revelation that his best friend had been the cause of all this suffering caused him to fall apart, because it was a blow too low to be expected, and because he'll never be able to get revenge (that is, until Marvel decides to ressurect Harry).

General Comments

I liked this entire arc. It was good to see how the Friendly Neighbourhood Spidey is like when we has no reason whatsoever to be friendly. It just shows a Peter who forgot about the "Power and Responsability" motto, and just wants revenge no matter who's in his way.

If you want to know more about the Tracer, just go to his profile, at the The Appendix of Marvel Universe website, by Jeff Christiansen, where you can find all the info you can dream of about obscure characters.

Anyway, there's one big glitch on this story: imagine you're the Chameleon. The Green Goblin hints you to ressurect the Parkers to find out Spidey's ID. Then he decides to leave a personal message in your computer for Spidey. A few months later, he dies. You never doubt that you'll beat Spidey. (How can you? You're a super-villain! You never lose!) Why don't you see the message? The Green Goblin won't come back (well, in fact he did - Peter Parker #75 - but that's another story) to kill you for reading his private mail... The most logical thing would have been: the Chameleon watches the message, thus finds out Spidey's ID. Let's just assume he is a very ethical criminal...

Overall Rating

A great ending romping home with four and a half webs. Overall, I'd probably give the arc an average rating of 3.5 webs. A bad start and a glitch beyond "suspension of disbelief" influence the grade of the whole.

 Posted: 2001